Paul Ritzenthaler, St. Joseph
“Be afraid! Be very afraid!” It was Chachi, on the wonderful show Happy Days who warned the world of incoming disaster. However, there are, out there, those who will use fear to swindle and con. “Be afraid! Be very afraid!” the reference has little motivation for me to alter my lifestyle until I got that disastrous call from the Internal Revenue Service, three Fridays ago somewhere around 10 a.m.
My golf clubs were nestled in the back of the car, and I was ready to enjoy a late morning of golf with my cohorts. Now, understand, I am the smartest golfer in our foursome, because at any given golf outing, I get to hit twice as many balls as my golf partners for exactly the same price.
Then came the call that destroyed it all. It came from the District of Columbia. My first thought was that – since President Obama was in Minnesota – he was calling to see if he could hit some golf balls with me. It’s something I would relish since, from what I understand regarding his golf game, I could finally find someone who would hit more balls than me.
Actually, I didn’t answer the phone immediately, because I was checking my calendar to see if I had time for a round of golf with the Commander and Chief. Or, perhaps, I was sitting on the throne, debating on how I could best improve my five-wood shot.
What transpired then was a message on my answering machine informing me I had to return a call to the IRS. And, because this was a “time-sensitive” issue, I had to call back immediately. I returned the call ASAP, and asked for the person I was directed to talk to, Officer Heather Grey. When I phoned back I got a gentleman who had a distinct Eurasian accent and said he could help resolve my issue. He then proceeded to inform me he needed the name of my attorney because I was being assessed $6,900 in tax penalties for the years 2009 to 2013. He continued to go through the consequences for my not abiding by the commission to pay the almost $7,000. You know, liens on the house, capturing my credit card, and selling my dogs into canine slavery.
When I asked why I had not been informed of this previously, he (I believe, the little thief, called himself Jeron) said the two statements had been sent to me via the U.S. Postal Service on May 14 and May 21. Now, since I collect the mail on a daily basis, I started to suspect. I told my IRS tormentor I would call my wife to see if she had gotten any notices. Jeron, being the unloveable jerk he was, said he would wait on the line while I shared my panic with my wife on my cellphone. Nope, she had not gotten any notices from the IRS, she said. It was about then she and I shared the same thought…SCAM. I then proceeded to go back on line with the little jerk and inform him (in words that are not printable) what I thought of him.
After I bid a fond farewell to Jeron (again using words that are unprintable), I hopped in my vehicle and headed to the local IRS office to make sure I was not going to be shipped to Devil’s Island. The delightful St. Cloud IRS agent must have been very surprised. I could tell by the way she said “Oh, not again!” According to her, this unfortunate scenario had been reported several times by those who had been victims of the same scam during the last couple of weeks.
So here’s a warning to anyone who gets a call from the IRS scam man. First of all, don’t do what I did in a panic mode. I gave them the last four digits of my social security. That’s OK if you don’t give all of it away.
Secondly, be aware when the IRS sends you information of payment issues, it will be sent Certified Mail that you have to sign for.
Likewise, according to the nice lady at the local IRS office, if you get a call from the IRS, it won’t be from a number in District of Columbia. It will say “Internal Revenue Service” or “Restricted.”
Also, if you don’t have a phone that shows where the call is coming from, advise the caller you would like to talk to your local IRS agent, and then, go in and see them. They are conveniently located at the corner of 8th Street and Highway 15 in the Social Security Building.
And, once you get such a call, advise the local IRS, the police (as I did), and your bank, just in case.
Lastly, the telephone number that gave me my panic attack is (202) 241-2158; Officer Heather Grey; and Jeron. I’m almost sure the names will be changed. But, if they do call you tell them I said…OOPS not printable.
And the very worst part of this dilemma? I’m sure while I was wasting valuable telephone minutes with these idiots, I missed a call from the District of Columbia regarding a friendly round of golf with the President of the United States.